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Labor hopes tree clearing data will trump LNP

Tree clearing in central Queensland. Photo: Angela WylieThe Palaszczuk Government is upping its battle to pass controversial legislation that would put tighter controls on tree clearing, releasing a new report that found vegetation clearing in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Great Barrier Reef catchment was occurring at “disturbingly high levels”.
Nanjing Night Net

Acting Premier Jackie Trad and Environment Minister Steven Miles released the 2014-15 Statewide Land Cover and Tree Study on Sunday, which found the rate of vegetation clearing within the reef catchment had “increased by 46 per cent since 2011-12”.

The SLATS report found 296,000 hectares were cleared across the state last year, with about a third of that coming from within the reef catchment area.

That’s only slightly higher than the year before, but Ms Trad said it pointed to the main reason Labor wanted to reinstate tighter controls.

“I think plateauing at 300,000 hectares annually is pretty unsustainable, and is pretty shocking,” she said.

The government has faced an uphill battle to reinstate Labor’s tree clearing laws, which were overturned by the Newman Government to allow landholders greater control over what they could clear on their land, particularly for ‘high value agricultural production’.

Farmers and the LNP have argued landholders could be trusted to know what to clear and what not to.

The government said it was moving to protect the reef from sediment and run off, and the re-instatement of the laws would “get the balance right”.

The Opposition, which has received the backing of major farming lobby groups as well as indigenous groups for its position, claimed the laws were unfair and would impact on the profitability of an already struggling factor.

Labor has attempted to combat the LNP’s argument with data, with Ms Trad repeatedly pointing to the $2 billion in sector growth over the decade the laws were originally in place.

But with the vote approaching and looking dangerously like Labor’s first legislative defeat in the hung parliament, it has moved to push the environmental angle of its laws, hoping to woo enough crossbench support to see the bill cross the line.

Parliament resumes on 16 August.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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